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Ford Creates Autonomous Vehicle Unit Headquartered In Detroit

Ford aims to be a global leader in self-driving cars and all related technologies.

Ford is charging at full speed ahead with autonomous and electric powertrain technologies by creating its new subdivision, Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC. This new unit will encompass the automaker’s “self-driving systems integration, autonomous vehicle research and advanced engineering, AV transportation-as-a-service network development, user experience, business strategy and business development teams.” For the most part, the unit will be headquartered in Detroit’s Corktown and it’s even structured to take on third-party investment. Ford already plans to invest some $4 billion in AV development through 2023.

Ford also has an ownership stake in Argo AI, a Pittsburgh-based company that focuses on self-driving system development, and it will fall under the new subdivision’s control. FAV LLC will be run by Ford’s current chief of Autonomous Vehicles and Electrification Sherif Marakby. "Ford has made tremendous progress across the self-driving value chain - from technology development to business model innovation to user experience," said Ford president and CEO Jim Hackett in a statement. "Now is the right time to consolidate our autonomous driving platform into one team to best position the business for the opportunities ahead.”

In order to have this large R&D budget, Hackett cut funding elsewhere, such as eliminating many models from the upcoming US lineup, including the Fiesta, Focus, Fusion, and Taurus. Ford is also developing more flexible vehicle architectures and more common parts across models. One of the ultimate goals is to reduce vehicle development time, meaning from sketch to dealership, by 20 percent.

By 2020, the average Ford dealership showroom age will drop from 5.7 to 3.3 years as it replaces three-quarters of its lineup and adds four new trucks and SUVs. The hybrid F-150 pickup truck, for example, will arrive in 2020 and not long after the Mach 1 all-electric performance crossover will debut. The reborn Ranger will arrive in dealerships next year and the Bronco SUV is widely expected to debut this January at Detroit. “We’re looking at every part of our business, making it more fit and ensuring that every action we take is driven by what will serve our customers in a way that supports our fitness and performance goals,” Hackett said.

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